Wednesday, August 21, 2013

The Formation of Feminine Character Part 1: Why Be Feminine?

The following is from a presentation on The Formation of Feminine Character that I gave at a ladies conference and tea a couple of years ago.  It will be presented here in three parts.

Part 1: Why Be Feminine?
a) God
      Who does not love romantic stories of ladies and knights?  Sleeping Beauty, Beauty and the Beast, Cinderella, or Snow White?  Have you ever noticed in these classic stories that the man always rescues the woman?  Feminists hate this traditional storyline because of the way it appeals to the soul.  (Have you seen a modern princess movie such as Princess and the Frog and noticed that the woman is the hero?)  We naturally love to see knights in shining armor rescuing damsels in distress!
   Why do we love these stories of princesses and knights which the modern world tells us are medieval and ridiculous, or even more, oppressive?
   Could it be because God made us to naturally love what is right?  There is something very true about fairytales that appeals to both the human and the spiritual nature.  Chesterton said, "Fairytales are more than true not because they tell us that dragons exist, but because they tell us that dragons can be beaten!"
   This is a good description of chivalry, tales of beauty and innocence to inspire great deeds!
   Women inspire chivalry.  They inspire their husbands to work and provide; they inspire their children to want to please God; young ladies of virtue inspire young men to set an example of justice, honor, and bravery.  Who can say this is not a noble calling?  One poet even said, "The hand that rocks the cradle is the hand that rules the world!"
   So, why be feminine?  God created and desires us to be so.
b) Yourself
   "A good man is good because of what he does, a good woman because of who she is," says Chesterton.
   It is important to note that not all people are equal.  Sex, vocation, intelligence or situation all affect the manifestation of one's personal spiritual journey.  St. Maximilian Kolbe wrote a beautiful prayer to Our Lady about the "noble rivalry" of honoring her.  The saints knew how much God loves us to contemplate unique ways to serve Him daily according to our state in life.
   I heard a story of St. Therese who was travelling in the country and noticed the contentment of the French peasants.  She admired their appreciation for their vocation and satisfaction with their station in life.  But rather than put on a peasant dress and learn the folk dances of the people, she kept her place, her dress and her customs.  She was wise enough to appreciate the beauty of inequality.
   To be able to accept and even admire one's unique place in God's service is a grace.
   Think of the stares a lady might get in the summertime at the beach or pool or even on the street if she decided to wear a feminine outfit among the crowds of immodesty.  But actually, I think some women would envy her happiness.  Women desire to be safe and protected.  There is naturally a tendency in every woman's heart to love modesty and elegance and even the apostolate of femininity.
   So, why be feminine?  Women are most happy as God created them.
c) Others
"The chaos of habits that always goes with males when left entirely by themselves has only one honorable cure; and that is the strict discipline of a monastery...(that is) why it was decided by the wisdom of St. Bernard or St. Benedict that if men were to live without women, they must not live without rules." (Chesterton, "What's Wrong With the World," Chapter 13: Wisdom and the Weather)  
   Archbishop Fulton Sheen also says, "To a great extent the level of any civilization is the level of its womanhood. When a man loves a woman, he has to become worthy of her. The higher her virtue, the more noble her character, the more devoted she is to truth, justice, and goodness, the more a man has to aspire to be worthy of her. The history of civilization could actually be written in terms of the level of its women."
   To achieve this highest level of social relationships, we must resist the outside push of modern television, music, advertisements, magazines, etc. which intentionally work to influence us away from God in the most repugnant ways.  Femininity is an ideal way to counter these forces as it was created by God as an instrument of grace.  A feminine woman moves and lifts society into a spiritual realm that is receptive to God's work.
   So, why be feminine?  To inspire others with this noble apostolate!
Stay tuned for Part 2 of this series: How to Be Feminine!

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